Here's a bit of my story.. Back in 1979 while in the Rocky Mountains I discovered God. It was a pretty cool experience. And after that the only dysfunction left has been in my favor! No churches for me. Hallelujah, because they've got so much of it wRong! The stories of those days in '79 are pretty interesting. But most interesting is when my son was 16. In 1996, he asked me two questions. I wasn't real happy with my answers, so I asked for better ones. It wasn't the first time I asked for a real clear understanding of things. I was a pretty solid believer, but after the answers came back like three 'bams'! Wow. Knocked my socks off. And all these years later.. still knocked off.
The questions he asked were "Why was the tree of knowing good and evil in the garden?" and "Isn't it great we get to be an ant farm!" ("A cynic is a disappointed idealist.")
The first answer that came to my mind was that God is life itself, the breath, spark and force (be with us!) And that he can only be perfect. Or he too would fade (2nd law of science. Presently.)
I could see that before God ever did any creating he could see all possibilities and their results stretched out 360 degrees in front of his sight 'like a floating ethereal blanket'. And that he has done all things in just the way he has in order to bring about the best of all possibilities.
Then I realized that when God endowed thinking ability (to angel and man) a whole new world (or tree) of potentials came to be. Because it's only logic, you see, that with rationality will come, sooner or later, the ability to make choices.
Strangely, my whole 'bam!' experience (download from God, to borrow someone else's words) ended with a question - why did God (Yahweh) wait so-very-long and only create the universe and man and woman, not only after the first bound-to-occur rebel thought ocurred, but after it had progressed into outright trickey and sedition? Didn't he know what would happen?
Of course He did! And here's the paradox - for God? - Once one chooses anything in any tiny way which difffers with what He chooses, they become imperfect, the opposite of life. Hence - the world as we presently know it, death, and all suffer, some horribly. But God, being life, lives through, suffers and experiences it all! Why would he put himslf through all that? Because he's not creating robots or an ant farm, but an un-breakable paradise and a family of many beautiful branches. Un-breakable because etched deeply upon every heart and mind will be the full knowing and complete understanding that one cannot wander away from God, for to do so can only ever end in a puff of self destructive smoke (apocalypse/nonlife). He's letting the ability to choose run its course and has only interfered a few times. Mostly by building in the rescue "from the foundation"/beginning.
He waited (so very long) so all "in heaven and earth" would take this unavoidable journey (and lesson) all together. Or else one would wander away now, another later and another still later.. taking virtually 'for ever'. Unavoidable, if there's to be the ability to think and ponder and analyze that is!
Mostly what I learned is because He is perfect, the 'end' result can only be the best one possible.
Before and since then by continuing my studies I've learned all references to a 'hell' in the Bible are mistranslations and misunderstandings. Mostly from the Greek, there's no 'hell' in the Old Testament (except for in the King James). And I've learned that Judgment Day will be rather - Atonement Day, for all who didn't have one previously. If Christ is the Passover Lamb - Spring Holy Days fulfilled by His first advent - then the Fall Holy Days, Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles will be fulfilled by his long second advent.
Jesus said "If I be lifted up from the earth" (on a cross, an image strong enough to pierce every psyche) "I will draw all to me". [John 12:32] Psalm 22:27 says "all the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all families of the nations will rejoice before Him". And 1 Timothy 4:10 says "God is the savior of all". And there's plenty of folks who believe these verses and many others like them. Tentmaker.org, for instance, has a lot of U.R. (universal redemption) articles and information, and an interesting discussion forum.
Take care and God bless!
Think Science Proves Atheism?